I became interested in Zuisho for bonsai about thirty years ago when it was first introduced to the US. For various reasons, most of the early imports did not survive. Through a mixture of luck and inexperience, the tiny grafted plant I acquired at a symposium in Rochester, NY, survived and thrived. One of the attractions of Zuisho is that it is relatively easy to propagate by air layering or rooting cuttings. As soon as my initial plant was healthy enough, I began propagating it by both methods.
The advanced trees being offered for sale are all air layers of sacrificial branches which were being used to build taper and girth in other Zuisho material I propagated from the original plant. The advanced Zuisho are all air layers. Some were taken from the mother trees as early as 2000. Those identified with letters are seferal years younger. The exact year is known for some of these but in a few cases the record tag has been lost. All have been exclusively pot grown in my soil mixture. At the time of layering, the material layered was 5-8 years old. The plants offered now have roots about 10-18 years old and tops about 15-28 years old.
After being successfully layered, standard prebonsai development techniques were applied as needed to increase girth, determine trunk movement, position branches and foliage, create taper, and maintain a shallow root ball suitable for safe transplanting into bonsai pots. Sacrificial branches have been used extensively to achieve taper and trunk size. When sacrificial branches are removed, a wound remains on the trunk for a period of time. Old wounds have long ago healed and are not visible. In some cases, wounds remain but should heal after the appropriate time passes. In a small number of situations, branches have been grafted onto the trunk to enhance the design. Where grafts have been done, a modified approach graft technique used material from another area of the same plant. The grafts are healed and now are very difficult to find.
These advanced Zuisho specimens are ready for final detail training and potting in a quality ceramic container. I am reluctant to part with them but as my age increases it is becoming more difficult to maintain a large collection with the attention to styling detail required for fine mature bonsai. I hope to disperse these to serious bonsai fanciers who can provide the last stages of refinement so that they can provide the maximum appreciation of this excellent Japanese five needle pine cultivar.
Julian R. Adams, grower November 2017
Summer 2020 note: Many of these have been sold. Several others have now been offered. In some instances, air layers are being taken on sacrificial branches and are seen in the recent photos.
graft in progress